Pakistani PM Imran Khan ousted in vote of no confidence


Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan attends a military parade in Islamabad, Pakistan March 23, 2022. According to reports on Saturday April 9, 2022, Khan was ousted from his post by a vote of no confidence. (Anjum Naveed/AP)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed from office early Sunday morning after a tense and chaotic day in which a vote of “no confidence” in parliament was repeatedly delayed.

Khan made a last-ditch effort to cling to power, producing a document he said proved that US officials had conspired against him in league with his legislative opponents.

In the end, 174 members voted to remove Khan, two more than needed.

Khan struggled for months to control Pakistan’s runaway inflation, foreign debt and other economic problems. While many of his promised reforms and civic projects failed, he maintained a loyal following, especially among young Pakistanis. However, he rejected the advice of military leaders and lost allies to the opposition, which slowly gathered enough support to challenge his fitness for office.

Just before midnight on Saturday, Acting House Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said the vote would determine whether Khan “no longer has the confidence of the assembly and will cease to hold office”. Legislators were asked to move to either side of the chamber and each signed a register to indicate their vote. The result was announced shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday in Islamabad.

Khan, 69, was expected to lose the vote after a week of drama in which he fought to stay in power by dissolving the legislature and having the vote overturned on the grounds that he was based on an illegal foreign conspiracy. On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the vote to go ahead as scheduled, and Khan pledged to abide by its decision the following day.

But on Saturday afternoon, as pro-government lawmakers filibustered for hours, it became clear something had changed. The assembly took a long break that lasted well into the evening as Khan spoke at a charity ceremony and then held a cabinet meeting behind closed doors.

According to the state television news channel, Khan walked out of the meeting and informed a group of reporters that he “would not accept a new government from outside” and planned to show the document of “foreign conspiracy” to Supreme Court justices and other senior officials.

Shortly after 10 p.m., Pakistani news stations announced that the Supreme Court would open at midnight to deal with the growing crisis. Police and paramilitary guards were deployed around the courts and throughout the capital. The federal investigative agency also issued a high alert at all airports and said no Pakistani official could leave the country without special permission.

Just before midnight, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said he had resigned in support of Khan, and called on all Pakistani citizens to “stand up for their country”. Qaiser said he made the decision after receiving the secret diplomatic document. But Sadiq quickly replaced him and announced that voting was about to begin. By 1:30 a.m., the embattled prime minister had been removed from office.

A maverick politician who came to power in 2018 vowing to end corruption and build an egalitarian ‘new Pakistan’, Khan faced an almost certain loss of power as a majority of 342 lawmakers opposed him. , joining a coalition of opposition parties and backed by defections from Khan’s Pakistan Justice Movement.

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, 70, a veteran politician who leads the Pakistan Muslim League party and led the legislative opposition campaign, is expected to be chosen as his replacement until new elections take place within the next six months.

Khan, a charismatic former cricket star, first inspired millions of voters with his anti-establishment rhetoric and his vision for building a “new Pakistan” – an Islamic welfare state based on opportunity, justice and independence for the impoverished Muslim-majority nation of 220 million.


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